The Meaning of Life 

When we commit ourselves to paths that fulfill the self, but do not contribute to our relationships or our role in society, we often feel alienated from others and the world in which we live. Likewise, when we commit ourselves to our personal relationships, but sacrifice ourselves in the process, and neglect making a contribution to the world, we give away our center of gravity to others, and remain dependent and internally empty.

Finally, when we commit ourselves work or a role in society which does not honor our individual selves, and neglects interpersonal relationships, we are likely to feel disconnected, drained, unfulfilled, and unable to make a satisfying contribution.

The greatest sense of meaning as well as personal fulfillment and contribution to society are likely to result when we live from the intersection points - not merely between two of the circles - self/other, self/society, or other/society, although these indeed may provide satisfaction and meaning,  but rather from the intersection point between all three circles.

At the intersection point, where self, other and society meet, we honor the needs and talents of our personal selves; we connect lovingly with others, and we experience ourselves earning our way in the world and contributing to the society in which we live. In such experiences, and with such life choices, we are likely to experience fully the meaning of life and to be able to express the fullness of that meaning in our relationships and our work.

In Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote:

"Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is,
but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word,
each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life
by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by
being responsible."   (p.172)

This is a viable philosophy, but one which may not be concrete enough for us when we are faced with important decisions, and grappling with a variety of choices, none which feel right, and all which may raise conflicts between our needs or values. What is life asking of us at such a time, when we cannot access our clearest inner guidance? Or when we have lost our center of gravity and cannot hear the call of our task or mission?

The answer may not come easily, but if we can clarify our highest values, and aim to make choices and discover opportunities that enable us to live from the intersection points of self, other and society, we are likely to make the best choices and as a result, to experience considerable meaning in our lives. Infused with that meaning, we are  then able to give from an open heart and a full, abundant spirit, and to become increasingly more capable of knowing and responding to our unique life tasks.


This document is copyright 1972, 1979, 1997 by Tracy Marks.
Please feel free to contact the author by clicking on the above link.

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